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Climate Change Bill [HL]

Volume 699: debated on Tuesday 11 March 2008

Further consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 28.

[Amendments Nos. 158 to 163 not moved.]

164: Clause 28, page 15, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) The first report under this section must be laid before Parliament and the devolved legislatures not later than 30th September 2009.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

165: Clause 28, page 15, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) The Committee’s report must also set out the Committee’s views on the programme for adaptation to climate change published by the Secretary of State under section 49 and its implementation, and any further action required as part of the programme.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

166: Clause 28, page 15, line 21, leave out “A report under this section” and insert “Each subsequent report under this section, other than one in the second year after the end of a budgetary period,”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, government Amendments Nos. 166, 168 and 170 extend the deadline by which the Committee on Climate Change must lay its annual report in the second year after the end of the budgetary period from 30 June to 15 July. It is a small change. Having considered the arguments made by noble Lords in Committee, we agree that there is a case for extending this deadline. At the end of the budget period, the Secretary of State has until 31 May in the second year following the end of the period to lay the Clause 14 report before Parliament. As drafted, Clause 28 would then give the Committee on Climate Change only until 30 June to lay its progress report before Parliament. The Government now accept that that period may be too short and we therefore believe that a short extension of two weeks will ensure that the Committee on Climate Change can take into account the contents of the Secretary of State’s final Clause 14 statement of emissions.

We have opted for a short extension of only two weeks as we should remember that, by this time, there will already be a large amount of information available that the committee can use to make significant progress in preparing the report in advance of 31 May. It will have information on the UK’s emissions and net carbon account for each year of the budget period, based on the annual emissions statements to Parliament under Clause 12. The committee will already have made four annual progress reports of its own, which will have been laid before Parliament, and the Government will have responded to each of them. So the committee will already be well placed to start making its assessment of the way in which the budget for the period was or was not met and of the action taken during the period to reduce emissions. That is why we think that a short, two-week extension is sufficient. It will provide adequate time for the committee to make any final adjustments to its report to take account of the Government’s final statement. It will achieve this without delaying unnecessarily the committee’s report or allowing the report to be laid during the parliamentary Recess.

Amendment No. 167 would extend the deadline for the committee to submit all its Clause 28 reports until 31 August, which seems excessive. For the years one to four of the budget period, the Government will have tabled the Clause 12 emissions statements by 31 March. The Bill as drafted will then give the committee three months to write its Clause 28 report. We are not sure why it would require a further two months’ extension to 31 August. We also note that this date falls in the parliamentary Recess, which could complicate matters. The only occasion on which we think an extension is justified is for the progress report at the end of a budget period under Clause 28(2). As I have explained, we think that two weeks are sufficient.

Amendment No. 169 would remove the Secretary of State’s power to extend the period allowed to the committee for laying its annual progress report. The power in Clause 28(4) is included and the reporting dates in the Bill have been chosen to allow the committee to consider, before making its progress report, emissions data made public by convention and under international and European Union reporting requirements. This power would allow the Secretary of State to make appropriate adjustments to the date if the international reporting requirements were altered. If, for example, that information were to become available later in the year, it might make sense for the committee to be able to delay each report until it has had the opportunity to consider the information.

The power cannot be used to prevent the committee from reporting earlier if it wished. If the Secretary of State wanted to delay the report but the committee did not want a delay, the committee would still be perfectly able to submit its report whenever it wanted. It simply leaves open the possibility of the committee delaying its report should it wish to do so. Reports must still be made annually. We believe that the flexibility to alter the dates by which the reports are required is an essential part of the Bill, so I hope that noble Lords will not press their amendments. I beg to move.

My Lords, our amendments in this group are designed to give the committee slightly more time—an extra two months—to prepare its annual report. Given the extra burden that we are placing on it, if we are asking for a more thorough report, it is only reasonable to allow more time for it to be completed. However, having heard the Minister say that he does not think that extra time is needed and that the Government are confident that the report will be done on time, we will not move our amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 167 not moved.]

168: Clause 28, page 15, line 22, at end insert—

“(3A) A report in the second year after the end of a budgetary period must be laid before Parliament and the devolved legislatures not later than 15th July in the year in which it is made.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 169 not moved.]

170: Clause 28, page 15, line 23, leave out “that period” and insert “the period mentioned in subsection (3) or (3A)”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29 [Response to Committees reports on progress]:

[Amendment No. 170A not moved.]

171: Clause 29, page 15, line 28, after “to” insert “the points raised by”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 171A not moved.]

172: Clause 29, page 15, line 31, at end insert—

“( ) The response to the Committee’s first report under section 28 must be laid before Parliament not later than 15th January 2010.”

173: Clause 29, page 15, line 32, leave out first “The” and insert “Each subsequent”

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 173A not moved.]

Clause 30 [Duty to provide advice or other assistance on request]:

174: Clause 30, page 16, line 9, at end insert—

“( ) advise the authority on the potential for reducing the effects of climate change through the adoption of a daylight saving scheme.”

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the last time we proposed this amendment, it triggered some responses that were supportive and others that were clearly not. Throughout the months of deliberation, a great deal of emphasis has been laid on the need for consensus, and the passage of the Bill so far has largely reflected that position. Our amendment is in exactly that mould. We do not urge or demand; we simply request that the climate change committee advise the authority on the potential for reducing the effects of climate change through the adoption of a daylight saving scheme. Whether or not to explore daylight saving is a matter entirely for the climate change committee.

Since the publication of the Bill last May, there has been increasing concern that the severity of the threat has grown and that targets originally contained in the Bill appear not only daunting but even inadequate to fulfil the objective of radically reducing UK carbon emissions. As David King said only last weekend, the challenge is so great that we are going to need every tool in the bag. We must assume that measures will need to be adopted that will not always be comfortable and that changes to individual lifestyles will inevitably sometimes be very painful.

The Stern report categorically told us that the sooner we tackle climate change, the cheaper and more effective our action will be. Daylight saving could be just one tool in the bag. By matching daylight hours more closely to waking hours, the use of electricity would be reduced. Use of the most basic model of daylight saving would yield a 2 per cent reduction of electricity consumption. With even more stringent daylight saving schemes, even greater economies could be made. The resultant decrease in carbon emissions could prove invaluable. Add to that equation the possible threat to our energy supply and reducing the use of electricity becomes even more desirable.

We are confident that the climate change committee—the committee of experts that we have discussed—will look at the suggestion contained in the amendment as it sees fit. Having seen the list of members appointed to that committee, we have total confidence in their judgment. They would be in a position to judge the value of daylight saving against the outcome of similar schemes in the USA, Australia and 70 other countries. We are convinced that, given the global concern at the gravity of the climate change threat, all industrialised nations will be forced to do the same. We could learn from one another.

There are, of course, traditional objections to a UK daylight saving scheme, all of which are valid to varying degrees. The experiment in the 1960s was abandoned for a variety of reasons; it is oft cited as the prime objection to any scheme. However, that was 40 years ago. Factors that seemed overwhelming then may appear less significant now when judged against the relatively new threat of climate change. Actions taken now can reduce that threat and protect our planet.

Finally, I draw your Lordships’ attention to last Friday’s debate in the other place, when Mr Tim Yeo advanced the Energy Saving (Daylight) Bill as a Private Member’s Bill, using evidence, statistics and arguments almost identical to those that we used at the previous stage of this Bill some weeks ago. It is encouraging and reassuring to see such consensus and agreement on this issue. While fully appreciating the reasonable opposition to the amendment—too controversial, too early, or even unnecessary—we would be grateful if the Minister could at least hold the door ajar for what we believe to be a constructive and sensible proposal. I beg to move.

My Lords, it falls to me to speak to the amendment. I remind the noble Baroness that in almost exactly two weeks’ time we will be experiencing daylight saving in the UK, as happens every year. I think that she is asking that the clock should not be put back to Greenwich Mean Time in the winter.

Here we enter an area where many Scots might like to think about increasing the definition of the line that crosses between Berwick and Carlisle. I am not sure that this is proper but perhaps I can put a little conundrum to your Lordships. If you are trying to progress as the crow flies between Carlisle and Edinburgh, do you envisage yourself moving a bit to the east or a bit to the west? That is the sort of question that you put to secondary school students. The answer is that Edinburgh is to the west of Carlisle and the majority of Scotland is to the west of that line. So not only is it further north, but it is further west, which affects the rising and setting times of the sun. Where I live, in winter time, it begins to get light at about 8 o’clock and we are used to getting darkness at about 4.30. We are not terribly keen on the idea of it getting light only at about 9 o’clock in the morning in the winter time.

As the noble Baroness said, this proposal has already been covered many times in different guises in the House. In the many debates, it always seems to fail to gain enough support. I am willing to inform the House that it does not have my support now as it comes back again. As far as I understand it, there is enough power in the Bill for the Committee on Climate Change to consider the issue if it wants—it has a very broad remit—but I am not desperately in favour of putting it to the committee as a special case.

The amendment goes only so far as to allow for a change in daylight saving schemes to be considered, but we feel that even to make that definite emphasis is going too far. This sort of amendment is characterised as a way of making evenings lighter; some of us see it simply as a way to make mornings darker. Postmen, farmers and construction workers depend on early light. People often talk about schoolchildren. One thing that we are trying to do at the moment is to get schoolchildren to walk to school. Their parents will never let them walk to school if it is pitch dark.

As the noble Baroness told us, the experiment was tried and abandoned for what I think were perfectly good reasons. The statistics gathered for the experiment between 1968 and 1971 showed a decrease in the number of people killed or seriously injured because of the shift in the clocks, but those statistics are skewed because they do not seem to account for the fact that drink-driving laws had not yet come into effect.

In any case, we do not feel that individual proposals for the reduction of carbon emissions have a place in this framework Bill. The purpose of the Bill is to set up mechanisms to introduce policy that will decrease climate change. Even those who feel that it is a good idea should object to the amendment on the grounds that the Bill should not be too prescriptive on policy to be implemented to stop climate change.

My Lords, the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, made a perfectly valid geographical argument. It has been argued before and is of course quite right. That is not the issue. The fact is that the further north you go, the darker it becomes in winter, whether you like it or not. Of course, during the summer, you have the advantage of longer days altogether, both morning and evening. The issue that the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has put before us is a very good one. I am only too happy to have my name attached to the amendment, as it was before. She has argued the case before extremely cogently and has done so even more this evening.

All that we are asking for is that this is considered as a matter of energy saving. I am glad to hear that the Conservative Party considers that there are enough powers in the Bill for that to happen; it will be interesting to hear whether the Minister can confirm that. If that is the case, that helps the cause enormously. It is only a matter for consideration, because any achievement of daylight saving would have to be the subject of another, completely separate Bill.

My argument is in connection with energy saving. Most of the Bill has been about other methods of achieving that—carbon sinks and other things—whereas we are talking about saving quite considerable quantities of energy. In the two world wars, such measures were introduced for the obvious reason that we were extremely short of energy at the time and drastic measures had to be introduced. You could say that climate change, as a worldwide issue, is of a similarly disastrous and catastrophic nature. Therefore, I have no hesitation in supporting what the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, is trying to do. Like her, I would like to think that the Minister will be able to give us some words of comfort about this measure being introduced at some stage in the future.

My Lords, I hesitate to intervene in the debate because I hope that my noble friend the Duke of Montrose will remain my noble friend after I have spoken. I have a very dim and distant, though none the less real, memory of a wartime experience in the days when we had double summertime, which the noble Viscount has been talking about. The experience was actual.

Good little boys in those days were sent to bed at about 6.30 pm. On the other hand, work on the farm, which was where I lived, went on. It went on while daylight went on. Daylight hours had been altered to give the maximum hours for work for the whole country, which in those days included Scotland—if my noble friend will accept that description. So, I was sent to bed at something like 6.30 pm, and like a good little boy I went to bed and I went to sleep. About two hours later, the men came in from work—my bedroom overlooked the farmyard—and they woke me up. It was broad daylight and I thought, “My gosh! I’ve overslept”. I jumped up, got dressed and went downstairs, at which, my appalled parents were astonished and said, “What are you doing here, dear?”. I said, “Well, I thought it was early morning. The chaps are coming in down the yard”. I thought that they were going out to work, but they were not, they were finishing their day’s work.

Behind that silly little tale is a very serious issue, which the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, has raised with her amendment. Although my noble friend the Duke of Montrose has chosen to disagree with her, I am bound to say that this matter, in the present circumstances, needs serious consideration. This is not a national emergency on the scale of World War II, for which I am immensely grateful, but it is an emergency on a global scale that we need to think about seriously. We need to think about everything that can be done to reduce our need for and dependence on artificial energy sources. If we can reduce our energy demand by altering our daylight pattern, it needs serious consideration at the highest level. I hope that that will happen.

My Lords, can I be impudent? I apologise very much to the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham—I was delayed by a few seconds, so I missed her opening remarks. She may remember that I impudently intervened the previous time she introduced this. I apologise to her and the House that I had not done the research to find the difference in daylight hours between Wick and Aberdeen, which is a good bit further north of me, let alone of my noble friends the Duke of Montrose and Lord Dixon-Smith.

Lest people think that I am growing roots or donning what people in Angus call “nicky tams”—my agricultural outfit—we should consider that, as my noble friend Lord Taylor would indicate, agriculture is not terribly relevant, apart from delivery and other work that tends to go on. I am thinking of the people in Aberdeen, Inverness and the north of Scotland who are dressed like ourselves, perhaps, and work in offices and other activities.

It may be simply lovely to have longer mornings, but I seem to remember—I may have raised this matter before; I have not been able to do all the research that I perhaps should have done—that when the noble Baroness moved her amendment so well at the previous stage, the Minister told us interestingly that some experiments had been done, perhaps on a theoretical basis. I am sure that the noble Baroness will take this on board. Applying these figures, it was found there was an increase in energy consumption. I do not know whether that was through heating offices or whatever, which you certainly need to in Inverness, Wick or Aberdeen because they are not exactly the Costa Brava, even in summer. I think the Minister indicated that the figures were marginally less favourable than might have been suggested by the noble Viscount, Lord Montgomery, because it can get quite chilly in Scotland. Farmers might be used to it, but office workers and others in administration are not entirely used to it. I have certainly taken on board the noble Baroness’s views. She presented them very well, and I very much look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say. I apologise if I was impudent and out of order.

My Lords, if the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, decides to test the opinion of the House, the Liberal Democrats will have a free vote, and not abstain as our colleagues in the other place did. This is an area where there are a number of mantraps; no doubt I have already fallen down one. Personally, I agree with the noble Baroness; we need a wide armoury of policies and ways to tackle climate change. As we have all said before, the way in which individual citizens live their lives—those small things—can at the end of the day make enough difference to this global issue. The amendment is certainly the right way to do this. We need an objective view of what benefits would be gained, and the climate change committee is the way to have that. You often find that what you intuitively think is the answer is not necessarily always quite so straightforwardly so. I am sure that it will be of benefit, but we might find that other nuances come out to make that policy even more exact and helpful. From a personal point of view, I wish the amendment every success.

My Lords, I can be extremely brief. It is most unfortunate that debates come again at this time of night—the wrong time of day. I have made my position perfectly clear. At this Dispatch Box, I always speak for the Government unless I speak for myself. I agree with daylight saving as a technique for lots of reasons. However, I have spent the best part of 14 days on my feet in this House trying to stop this House making the climate change committee an executive policy-making committee. I am therefore a little surprised by what I heard earlier. The amendment would amount to that. The only saving grace is that I will not even attempt to use my small speech. I will, however, answer the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, by repeating what I talked about before in the inadequate speech that I delivered. The evidence that I used was the specific Building Research Establishment evidence about buildings; it did not cover the totality of what would happen to society. Last Friday, I do not think the Government could give a view in the other place because the Bill was talked out. I am not wholly convinced that there is a total government-wide view on this. DBERR is the department that leads on this. If there was a lot of pressure on the department from business, you would think that it would be on the case, but it is not because there is not a lot of pressure from business in total.

There is the status quo—do nothing—because there is no pressure to do anything. I can offer only the reality. We are dealing with the Climate Change Bill. As I have said, I have spent all this time arguing that it should not have a policy remit to say how we meet the targets or the budgets that will be set by suggesting other things, such as different forms of power generation. There are all kinds of issues. We are trying to stop that because that is not the role of the Committee on Climate Change. I would be falling into a trap simply because I agree with the policy issue, but that is not the issue. That is not the role of the committee.

However, on the question about the committee advising on this issue, I would draw the attention of the House and that of the other place to the fact that about the only area of the Bill which would be relevant is Clause 30, “Duty to provide advice or other assistance on request”. The clause states:

“The Committee must, at the request of a national authority, provide advice, analysis, information or other assistance to the authority in connection with”,

a whole series of things. In other words, the committee has the power to consider this issue if asked to do so under Clause 30. I cannot go beyond that. It would not make sense from my point of view to make a long speech on this at this point.

My Lords, I thank noble Lords who have contributed to this debate. It has been very helpful. I feel somewhat encouraged and I certainly have been very encouraged by the points made by the Minister. On some of the specific arguments, I am not surprised to see the Scottish question being raised yet again. I think that we all accept that RoSPA is the authority on this. It has stated:

“There is some opposition to”—

daylight saving—

“in Scotland where it will be darker for longer in the winter mornings. Many feel the later sunrise times outweigh the longer periods of daylight in the afternoon.

In fact, Scotland will actually be the main beneficiary of SDST due to the reduction in the number of road accidents”.

That very powerful argument has to be put into the equation. When we discussed this previously, a point was made about the greater good. Sometimes we have to look at that and balance it with the arguments against and the arguments for.

The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, always makes fascinating injections in debates. I do not know whether he saw the climate change committee chairman’s suggestion for people in offices. He suggested that in the winter, in order to cut down on heating, we should all wrap up warm, and that in the summer we should all pitch up in our shorts. Next summer, I shall look forward to seeing whether the noble Lord, Lord Lyell, shows his knees in the Chamber. If he does we shall know that he has taken that advice.

My Lords, I would love to come to the Chamber in my kilt. Perhaps if the wind blows the noble Baroness might get a surprise.

My Lords, I think that we should move on from that.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, for his support. He is right that we should look at this objectively and sensibly. I think of it as nothing less than a serious proposal. I am encouraged by the Minister’s support and I take his point about Clause 30, which I think will be called into play; that is, the climate change committee can be asked to look at daylight saving. With those assurances, and with my thanks to contributors, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 175 and 176 not moved.]

177: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Power to provide advice or other assistance of its own initiative

The Committee may of its own initiative provide advice, analysis, information or other assistance to a national authority in connection with meeting the objectives set up under this Act.”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall begin where the amendment proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Billingham, finishes. Clause 30 states that the committee must, if asked by a national body,

“provide advice, analysis, information or other assistance”,

which was helpful in relation to daylight saving. I want to go one step further and say that the committee can do analysis, get information or give advice without being asked if it thinks it is relevant to helping the Government achieving the targets that it has set. The House will not be surprised that, as a former civil servant, once upon a time I read Machiavelli. I quote him bearing in mind the difficulty that Ministers have in doing unpopular things, which is why I want the committee to be able to take the initiative in raising issues. Machiavelli said:

“There is nothing more hazardous that the Prince may essay than to change the established order of things, for he has for adversaries all those who are disadvantaged who contest the changes like partisans, whilst those who are advantaged maintain silence, lest their advantage be perceived”.

If only Mrs Thatcher had read that before introducing the poll tax, she might have been wiser.

There is a risk that the Government will hesitate to invite the committee to look at issues that would be very challenging to a political party which has to get re-elected. I can think of nowhere where that is more true than in relation to domestic premises and our cars. As I said on the first day of Report, those two between them account for 35 per cent of carbon emissions. They hit everyone’s pocket and it is difficult stuff to go into. It will help the Government if the committee opens up some difficult boxes. I do not think the committee should have the power to say “thou shalt”, as was argued earlier today, but it should examine, comment and pass its advice and analysis over to the Government.

I am prompted a little in making the suggestion because it has been put to me that the Sustainable Energy Policy Advisory Board, set up after the 2003 energy White Paper, started off in good fettle but seemed to have its role gradually diminished because it was doing or saying some rather unpopular things. I do not know whether that is true—it has not been put to me by an energy body—but it is in the interests of the Government and us all that the Government should have, through the committee, the information and analysis required to formulate good policy even though they have been reluctant to ask for this box to be opened.

The Minister has said several times that he does not want the committee to be engaged in policy—and certainly not in decision-taking—but if a committee has, as this committee has under Clause 27(1)(a), the duty to advise the Government on energy budgets; and if, as under government Amendment No. 144, it goes into sectors where there are particular opportunities for making savings; and if, as required under the same section of the Bill, it has a duty to give the reasons for its advice, I cannot see how the committee can do that without evaluating the implications, benefits and costs of specific actions. If not, it is an empty box; there is no basis for its advice. It must give that advice to the Government, and we have agreed that it should be made public. If it is not, I guess it will be wheedled out under the Freedom of Information Act. Although the committee is not there to decide, it inevitably presents the Government with considerably worked-out policy options and it will be to the advantage of the Government to have this.

Once upon a time I was invited by the Government of the day to chair a committee on the future of further education. One issue was paramount—how it was to be funded. The place was in uproar about higher education. It is very handy in those circumstances to a Government—and perhaps even to an opposition party when an election is not very far off—to have independent persons, under a chairman of sufficient age that he is wholly expendable, to say the things that are very difficult to say and to present the Government with options for something as challenging as, for example, tuition fees. It is very tempting to leave such difficult issues on one side. Sometimes independent persons, such as the committee which is to be appointed, if given that extra bit of freedom, can tackle those issues, open the box for the Government and make it possible to debate them in public and move forward on policy issues.

I propose that it should be open to the committee to provide on its own initiative the advice that can be requested by a national authority under Clause 30. I beg to move.

My Lords, this is the Frankenstein amendment. I cast no reflection on the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, whose contributions to the debates in this House are always of high value. This evening has been no exception. It is a pity, given the lateness of the hour, that there are not more noble Lords here to listen to his eloquence.

When I call this amendment the Frankenstein amendment I do so not only because it might frighten the noble Lord, given his aversion to executive powers, but because the amendment leads us to a place where, up until now, the Government have feared to tread. The amendment makes the Committee on Climate Change come alive with its own autonomous capacity to make recommendations where it sees fit. This seems to fit in with our overall approach to the Bill, which has been to empower the Committee on Climate Change to ensure that it is robustly independent and authoritative. At first glance, this might be even too far for our liking—that is, the Committee on Climate Change should be an authoritative and independent body but should not usurp the powers of the Government, in terms of the formulation of difficult details of policy or launching its own policy initiatives and agenda.

The amendment makes the committee much more reasonable. It simply empowers the committee to provide information for which it was not asked directly by the Secretary of State. This seems like a very sound idea. What comes immediately to mind would be breakthroughs in the scientific community—or indeed even in industry—which would be very important to the Secretary of State and might affect government policy in an oblique way. The Secretary of State might not be able entirely to appreciate the import of some of the more abstruse breakthroughs and it would be extremely beneficial to put the committee in a position in which it could pass on this information. Although that would not be its primary function, the committee is perfectly poised to be the conduit between the scientific world and the political world. Providing information and advice to the Secretary of State would enable him to make better informed decisions.

We have to face the fact that, on these immensely complex matters, the Secretary of State might not even know when he should ask for advice. This is by no means a condemnation of politicians, but with the immense speed at which developments occur in this field it would be useful to give the committee this capacity to proffer its own advice. The Government would be hard-pressed to object to an amendment like this—it would seem that they would want the committee to be under the thumb of the Secretary of State if they reject it.

It would be interesting to hear further from the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, of situations where he feels that empowering a committee in this way would have strengthened the position of the committees and bodies on which he has served in his long public life. He has proposed a particularly useful amendment this evening.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, for having brought forward the amendment, to which I was pleased to add my name. I was quite surprised when the noble Lord first approached me, because I had assumed that the committee would have this power, yet when one goes through the Bill, one sees that that is not clearly the case.

The amendment is again in the area of executive authority versus advice. In no way does it introduce executive authority for the climate change committee in terms of placing obligations on government, but it legitimises the committee, keeps it intellectually alive, and makes it a much more useful instrument for government in that it gives it the ability, particularly in the areas of analysis and research, to look at particular aspects of climate change or adaptation which it feels are important, but are perhaps missed or are not high on the Government’s or the nation’s agenda at the time. Therefore, the proposed power is very important.

However, would the amendment lead to the climate change committee, through its own authority, advising government on major policy issues on its own initiative? To my mind, it does not go that far, nor should it. The committee should be able to take on independent analysis around technical and important issues, but it should not use the proposed new clause, for instance, to say, “We believe that nuclear power is the only way to solve climate change”. That is not what the amendment is about; it is around intellectual rigour, around bringing items that are not otherwise evident to the notice of government. Its practical effect would be that the climate change committee became much more alive, and remained fit for purpose and an even greater asset to government in terms of their own policy-making.

My Lords, I am in some ways reluctant to respond to the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, with the answers before me, because of the way in which he set out his stall. I was tempted to go down the road of a former Prime Minister on the issue of tuition fees, who said to me when I visited him, “We’re not going to get anywhere with this. It needs some committee, some Select Committee, some independent committee to come up with it, because if your lot propose it, we’ll oppose it; if we propose it, you’ll oppose it”. That was after I had been dismissed, of course, for making the proposal when I was a shadow spokesman. That works in practice in some ways.

However, I have good news. Clause 28 requires the climate change committee to lay an annual report on progress before Parliament. The committee has duties to provide advice on the level of carbon budgets, and to carry out a review of the level of the 2050 target before the end of the year. Clause 30, which I have already drawn attention to, contains a further duty to provide advice on request. Clause 31(1) states:

“The Committee may do anything that appears to it necessary or appropriate for the purpose of, or in connection with, the carrying out of its functions”.

If I was being told, “You’re independent; you’re part of the great and the good; we want you to give robust, independent advice”, and I and colleagues on the committee were minded to say, “Hang on, these powers enable us to do something”, that would seem pretty wide to me. Clause 31(2) only gives some particulars, stating “in particular … may”, but subsection (1) states:

“The Committee may do anything that appears to it necessary or appropriate”.

My Lords, I accept that there is a lovely blanket clause that could wrap up anything. On the particular item, it says that it may provide advice on request; in effect, excluding unrequested advice. If it said that the committee may provide advice, fine, but it says specifically that that advice must be given on request. To that extent the wording of the Bill excludes the possibility of unsolicited advice. That is my reading of the Bill and what I think has motivated the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, and what certainly motivates me to feel we have to open the thing up a bit.

My Lords, unsolicited advice in the sense of what my noble friend was asking for on daylight. I specifically emphasise in Clause 30 that the committee may do these things at the request of a national authority; for example, the Secretary of State or the devolved Administrations. However, when the committee comes to form its budgets, its advice and the targets—because that is its central purpose—it will clearly, as we have debated, commission and look at all kinds of work and research. It is up to the committee; it is not our job to second-guess it. I am not saying in this case that it would necessarily be the case of daylight hours—I have gone past that.

The noble Lord, Lord Dearing, raised a general issue. If the committee wants to do something it thinks is appropriate—in forming its advice to Government—not on policy but advice on the budgets, it is free to use these powers. It is not a free for all—no one is arguing that. It is constrained within its functions, as I have said, for the purpose of carrying out its functions. But its functions to give advice and to set those budgets are pretty widespread. This is an incredibly powerful committee to that extent.

I am not offering Clauses 30, 31 and 28 as an alternative and we do not need the provisions of the noble Lord, Lord Dearing. The things that the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, was getting at could well be facilitated by a combination of Clause 28 and Clause 30 maybe. But leave Clause 30 on one side if there is no request. The climate change committee has to be a self-starter and set in its parameters because obviously we do not want to overload it. The Government have requested it to do certain things as a priority. There is the issue of looking at the 60:80 target for a start.

We need to keep the issue clear and focused. The committee can only do things on request. In other words, it is not completely constrained as to what it can do by every measure and only receiving written requests from a national authority, Secretary of State or the devolved Administrations. If it thinks it necessary, as a result of carrying out its function, to give advice on very wide areas 50, 20 or 10 years ahead, it can do these other things. It is then up to it to say, “That is what we thought was appropriate to use”. That is why general ancillary powers are there. “General” means general; “ancillary” means extra; and “powers” means the powers.

So it is up to the committee to take cognisance of that. I can see circumstances where it might want to say, “We need to go beyond our function and commission some other work or carry out some other function”. It is not constrained by Clause 31. It can do anything it wants as long as it can link it to its functions. That is a perfectly reasonable response. So there is an opportunity for the committee to express its views on progress in tackling climate change. I do not think there will be any issue. It will be a high-profile committee in terms of media and the public perception, and very powerful in terms of its advice to Parliament.

We have discussed the importance of insuring that the committee is adequately resourced to carry out its tasks. We have accepted that. I have already said that—speaking from memory—it should receive the same kind of servicing that the Stern report received. I approved of that. That is what I said originally. It will have the same kind of backup that the noble Lord, Lord Stern, and his team had. That is important.

At an operational level, the amendment could distract the committee from its key task and could be disproportionate and overburden the committee. It will have dedicated resources but it is not a completely free-for-all. In practical terms, the committee and the Government will have to agree a work programme because of making best use of its resources—and I have no doubt that Parliament will want to scrutinise those. Documents will be made public. Everyone will see what it is focusing its resources on. Its remit is to provide expert advice on the budgets and not to go beyond that. But I will only be repeating myself if I go down the road of making policy options on some of the issues raised.

I think that in many ways the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, goes too far in the way in which the proposal is set out—though not in relation to what he seeks to achieve: ensuring that the committee has freedom and common sense and that it touches the boundaries and deals with unpopular issues. The Committee on Climate Change will have to offer advice on some very difficult issues, and that might be unpopular. But it will be for the Government to formulate policies to put that advice into operation. The buck rightly stops with the Government, who are accountable to Parliament. We do not want to burden the climate change committee with being the centre of attention in the cockpit where we are discussing the way forward in implementing the budgets and advice it recommends.

My Lords, I was finding the Minister very reassuring until the last few moments of his response when he went on to talk about the danger of the committee being distracted and the need to agree its work programme with the Government. He seemed to be saying that if the Government do not agree with what the committee desires, it will not be agreed.

I thank the Minister. He certainly showed understanding of what lay behind the amendment. He can see the need for the committee’s independence and went a long way towards assuring us that, one way or another, it had it. But in the light of his closing remarks I should like to reflect further on whether sufficient has been offered and whether we shall want to return to this on Third Reading. Meanwhile, perhaps I may ask the Minister whether he can go some way on Third Reading towards responding. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 31 [General ancillary powers]:

178: Clause 31, page 16, line 25, at end insert—

“( ) The Committee must have regard to the desirability of involving the public in the exercise of its functions.”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 33 [Powers to give guidance]:

179: Clause 33, page 16, line 36, at end insert—

“( ) section (Advice on level of 2050 target) (advice on level of 2050 target),”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 34 [Powers to give directions]:

180: Clause 34, page 17, line 20, at end insert—

“( ) section (Advice on level of 2050 target) (advice on level of 2050 target),”

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 181 and 182 not moved.]

Clause 36 [Trading schemes]:

183: Clause 36, page 18, line 5, leave out “relevant national authority” and insert “Secretary of State”

The noble Duke said: My Lords, if this were Committee stage I would say that this is a probing amendment. If your Lordships will put up with me, I shall speak to various questions around this issue without the actual wording that we put in the Bill.

The Minister explained in Committee that accepting the amendment as it was drafted would prevent UK-wide trading schemes as the Secretary of State would not have authority over the schemes in the devolved Administrations. I appreciate that point, and it is certainly not the goal of our amendment. However, we have retabled it because on consideration we still feel that there are some unanswered questions concerning devolution and trading schemes.

It is rather up in the air as to what will be in the Scottish climate change Bill. I gather that some of the ideas are currently out for consultation. Perhaps the Minister is being kept up to date on whether the basic proposals are on the same lines as we anticipate will be brought in under the carbon-reduction commitment, the one visible policy which would come in under the Bill we are now discussing. So far, I do not believe that the Scottish Administration expect to set up their own climate change committee. Is a good mechanism available whereby the good work that is done by the climate change committee here can be made readily available so that the Scots can evaluate what might be of use to them?

We have delved into the issue of national authority several times but there still seem to be remaining concerns. It would be interesting to know whether a trading scheme for the UK could apply all over the UK. Can the Minister give any indication whether this will come about? I suppose that the trading scheme would be beneficial to all parts of the country so there is no obvious reason, at the moment, why there might be disagreement.

Indeed, the devolved Administrations might be particularly affected, especially if in the future there are mechanisms to create carbon credits by certifying reductions. This means that other sorts of emissions reduction regulation, such as feed-in tariffs, might then become linked into trading schemes. Interestingly, one of the functions that is not devolved is energy, so feed-in tariffs might have to apply across the whole country. I know it is a slightly different issue but it might cause disagreement about trading scheme regulation in the future.

Feed-in tariffs, to take one example, might cause disagreement as some evidence suggests that they tend to promote certain types of geographically specific ways of reducing emissions which might favour one nation over another. For example, feed-in tariffs in Germany, together with planning law, tend to favour wind power and cause a concentration of development in the northern coastal states. A similar thing could happen in Scotland with hydroelectricity. If there were the opportunity to have emission reductions certified as tradable credits—an issue I will take up later—the trading schemes regulation becomes intimately linked into all manner of more local regulation and devolved issues.

The Minister has told the House that the devolved Administrations will be free to set their own schemes but that it might be necessary to have UK-wide regulation for trading schemes. How can we be assured that this will be the case if it is to be determined individually by the national authorities? It seems very open-ended and could lead to possible confusion.

The Minister said that he previously opposed this amendment because of a lack of sophistication in its drafting. Does he accept its intention? Would he consider bringing something forward at Third Reading to clear up the confusion regarding the direction of the trading schemes regulation? I beg to move.

My Lords, I hope that I can clarify some of the points that were made in Committee. This amendment would give all the powers to make trading schemes under the Bill to the Secretary of State. He alone would be able to make UK-wide trading schemes using the powers; the powers in Part 3 would not be available to the other national authorities. I understand the intention behind Amendment No. 183—to ensure that a UK-wide approach only can be taken—but we think that it would create real problems in our relationship with the devolved Administrations and that it would not achieve its objectives.

The idea behind Part 3 is to allow each of the national authorities to make trading schemes within their competence, using the same set of powers, and to be able to work jointly together to do so. It is worth looking at the current position. At the moment, the Secretary of State has no power to make such trading schemes through secondary legislation, nor do the Welsh Ministers. The Scottish Parliament can make trading schemes within its competence in Scotland and the Northern Ireland Assembly can make trading schemes within its competence in Northern Ireland. Our aim is to have the same set of powers available to each of the national authorities without changing or upsetting the devolution settlements that are already in place. The whole idea is to enable joint trading schemes to be made in secondary legislation, which cannot be done at the present time.

If this amendment were agreed to, the Secretary of State would be able to make UK-wide schemes on his own. However, the amendment would not take away any of the powers available to the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, so they could still introduce their own trading schemes in the areas that have already been devolved to them, which could possibly duplicate or cut across any trading schemes that the Secretary of State introduced under the amendment. It would be just as possible for us to end up with multiple trading schemes in the UK and there would be far greater potential for confusion and complexity. Moreover, any schemes would not be tied together by a single enabling power. I know that the noble Duke does not seek that, but that would be the consequence of the amendment.

We also do not think that it is sensible to have several new powers exercisable in the same legislative fields in different UK countries. That would cut across the devolution settlements that were drawn up following the referendums in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. It is not practically sensible, or necessary, for the UK Government to give the appearance, which is what it would be, of clawing back powers in this way.

We are putting in place firm foundations for joint trading schemes. The national authorities have agreed that this is the most sensible way forward—they agree with the Bill—and we continue to work closely together. For example, the carbon reduction commitment, which I mentioned in the debate on this issue in Committee, will be rolled out across the whole of the UK using these powers. That is a perfect example of how committed the national authorities are to working together within their powers to reduce emissions. Every country understands the desirability of having UK-wide schemes, because a bigger scheme with a wider market will ensure more liquidity and increase the likelihood of delivering more efficient emissions reductions as a result.

These powers in the Bill offer the best possible way to a solution. While I see where the noble Duke is coming from, I hope that the elaboration that I have given shows that we could end up with more difficulties regarding the devolution settlement and still not get joint emissions trading schemes, when I think that we would all agree that it is those schemes that are sensible.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for going into such detail, which has been immensely helpful. Having heard him explain in earlier stages how each of the Administrations would be totally independent, I found it rather difficult to see how a common scheme could be engineered. It is rather interesting to hear that the devolved Administrations are all prepared to accept the carbon reduction commitment when it is introduced. Obviously a certain amount of preparatory work has been done, because that is still somewhere down the line. I suppose that there could be a slip before it comes into place, but it is useful to know that the co-operation has been building up. The question that will remain is what will happen when the next scheme comes along. We would be interested to hear, if the Minister can find out, what reaction there will be on the feed-in tariffs to the electricity network and how that will work across the Administrations. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

183ZA: Clause 36, page 18, line 13, at end insert—

“( ) Where a scheme introduced under this part depends on the limitation of the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted by those participating in the scheme, the limits of those reductions shall be established so that the scheme achieves equivalent reductions to those required under Section 1(1) by 2050.”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a probing amendment. I apologise to the House for introducing it on Report. I confess that for the past two or three weeks, both my intestines and my brains have been somewhat addled by something that my doctors call the norovirus. My mental processes have perhaps not been as sharp as they should have been, hence the late arrival of the amendment.

This part of the Bill gives the relevant national authorities the power to make provision by regulations for trading schemes relating to greenhouse gas emissions. Of itself that is very worthy, and I have no difficulty with the proposal as it stands. My amendment is designed to put a framework on to that power to ensure that the limits of carbon emissions, on any of the schemes introduced under this part of the Bill, have to parallel the limits of reductions in emissions that are implied by the limits that might be created under Part 1.

There is a very simple reason why I am asking this question. The European Emissions Trading Scheme, which is so often held up as a wonderful example of how a trading scheme should work was, frankly, in its phase 1 persona, a total disaster. The political will to make the scheme effective simply was not there. Phase 1 of the scheme achieved virtually nothing, except to set up a suitable administration. I will give it that benefit. As far as reducing emissions was concerned, no, this was not the way to do it.

Phase 2 of the scheme may be more effective. It has come into effect. The price of a tonne of carbon emissions has risen to somewhere near what may become a sensible figure. Phase 3 is under negotiation. At this moment I have no confidence in the political willpower of those responsible for this scheme, which—if my memory is correct—we heard earlier this evening is responsible for something like 50 per cent of UK carbon dioxide emissions. I have no confidence that the administrators of this scheme will set limits that will take our emissions down to the sorts of levels implied by the figure that the Government have now put in Part 1 of this Bill, still less the figure that the Committee on Climate Change may well ask the Government to impose when it has had time to consider adequately the development of information on climate change since the original figure was suggested.

Therefore, we need to look at any scheme introduced under this part of the Bill to ensure that it has regard to the strategic target which the nation has now set, and which may be amended to an even more severe target. It may well be that the Minister will be able to tell us not to worry, and that this is not an issue because it is implicit in everything the Bill says that the state I want to bring about will happen. If the Minister gets up and tells me that, that will be fine. If he cannot tell me that, we need to be quite concerned. If we are going to establish these schemes, and if they are going to work, they have to take emissions down to the levels implied under Part 1 of the Bill. If they do not, frankly, they are not worth establishing. I hope I do not have to come back to this and that the Minister will be able to give me the assurances that I need. I beg to move.

My Lords, again, this is a very interesting subject and one I could speak a lot about, but at this time of night I will restrain my remarks. It is an important point and I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on raising it. Clearly, one of the major potential flaws of the independence of the Committee on Climate Change is that all its budgets are already fixed by the emissions trading schemes that are already in operation.

That is pretty well the case with the EU ETS. The post-2013 proposals have a very precise linear decrease in total carbon dioxide emissions to 21 per cent by 2020. This is in comparison with the 2005 level. Of course, in every other ETS we talk about the 1990 level.

I should be interested to hear from the Minister what the 2020 reduction is in terms of 1990 levels. I think that it is pretty compatible with the mid-range target, but the Commission is very clear on the matter and I shall read from its questions and answers document:

“However, a larger reduction is required of the EU ETS sector because it is cheaper to reduce emissions in the ETS sectors”.

In fact, in the non-EU ETS sectors that means a reduction of about 10 per cent compared with 2005 for the sectors not covered by the scheme. That illustrates the sort of difficulties that there are and shows that the degrees of freedom that the Committee on Climate Change will have in agreeing budgets because of EU obligations will be severely limited. Of course, it will be more than 50 per cent—I think that it is currently 52 per cent—because it will include aluminium and phosphates in additional sectors. Therefore, very deep questions arise here.

I am also interested to hear the Minister’s answer with regard to UK domestic schemes. Will there be a need for any significant scheme, and will carbon budgets and the targets of the Committee on Climate Change be undermined?

My Lords, here comes my deep answer to the deep questions. It will probably sound quite shallow to noble Lords opposite, who are much more expert in this than I am.

As the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, knows, Amendment No. 183ZA would require each trading scheme, which is set up under Part 3 to limit activities that cause greenhouse gas emissions, to deliver the same level of reduction as required by the target in Clause 1(1). Our key concern with the amendment is that it would restrict the flexible approach which, as I have often mentioned, is absolutely key to the trading scheme powers. The amendment would essentially introduce sectoral targets by the back door. A trading scheme could be introduced only if it reduced the emissions in 2050 from that sector by at least 60 per cent.

The 60 per cent target applies to the whole economy. It does not matter where in the economy our emissions are reduced as long as the overall target is met. It will obviously be more cost-effective to reduce emissions in some sectors than in others, so some sectors will achieve more than 60 per cent and others less than 60 per cent. However, the amendment would require that any sector covered by a trading scheme which limited emissions would have to reduce its emissions by at least 60 per cent. We think that this could increase the overall costs for the UK of meeting our target. For that reason, we have rejected rigid, top-down sectoral targets, and we cannot accept the amendment. However, I think that that message had already come across.

In addition, what would happen if a scheme was introduced in, say, 2010, and we did not know at that time what impact the scheme would have in 2050? Would the amendment mean that the scheme could not be introduced at all? That could lead to the bizarre situation where the Government might not be able to introduce the measures needed to take us towards the target in the Bill, because individually each measure would not deliver a 60 per cent reduction. This would leave us still further from meeting the targets and budgets overall.

A further practical difficulty concerns the nature and level of the target in Clause 1(1). The Bill contains provision for the target to be revised, but what would be the impact on existing trading schemes if the target was made more stringent? Would the existing schemes have to be adjusted to ensure that they delivered the increased reductions required?

We appreciate the sentiment of the amendment, which is to ensure that new trading schemes deliver reductions in line with the long-term target. However, I have outlined the practical difficulties, and the existence of robust scrutiny arrangements, which we have discussed before, will ensure that inappropriate trading schemes may not be brought in using these powers. I hope that that provides sufficient reassurance for the noble Lord and that he will not push his amendment.

The noble Lord asked whether the amendment covered the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. The answer is that the European Commission has recently published proposals for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to 2020. The EU is committed to demanding emission targets for 2020 and the Commission’s proposals on the EU Emissions Trading Scheme are consistent with that. Those proposals will now be debated by the member states in the European Parliament and we hope that agreement can be reached there.

The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked about the EU proposals being consistent with our 2020 target. I am not sure whether I covered this earlier today, but as I have a few minutes left I shall put this on the record. The Government have proposed a target of a 26 to 32 per cent reduction in UK carbon dioxide emissions by 2020 from a 1990 baseline. That equates to a 32 to 37 per cent reduction in emissions of the Kyoto basket of greenhouse gases. In addition, the Committee on Climate Change will look at the level of the 2020 target as part of its review of the UK’s longer term 2050 target.

The Commission’s proposals set out the minimum level of effort that is required of member states for 2020. These proposals do not include whole economy targets for each member state, so it is not possible at this stage to estimate the accuracy of the proposed UK’s contribution to an EU 20 per cent greenhouse gas reduction target. That will become clear once further decisions have been taken on how to divide the EU-wide central cap for the Emissions Trading Scheme. Under the Commission’s proposals that is likely to be in 2011 or 2012. However, on the basis of what the Commission has set out so far, the overall UK share of the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target of 20 per cent by 2020 will not be above the 2020 target set out in the Climate Change Bill.

Our projections suggest that achieving the target in the Climate Change Bill to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to 26 to 32 per cent—that is the range—below the 1990 levels by 2020 would mean that our total greenhouse gas emissions were about 32 to 37 per cent below 1990 levels in 2020. We are looking at the detail of the Commission’s proposals to see whether we can be more specific. We are able to go further if we choose; we are now working with other member states, the European Parliament and the Commission to ensure that members will be able to identify a single, economy-wide target that applies to them. That would give us the clarity that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, seeks. If he asks me anything else, I do not have any more answers.

My Lords, I understand that. I thank the Minister for going that far. I point out that he is talking about the Kyoto greenhouse gas basket which we have been far more successful in reducing than carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide target will be far more difficult to meet.

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister, even if I am somewhat disappointed by his reply. I am disappointed because it is always possible for a Government in this situation to give a perfectly logical response saying that the amendment would not work. After all, I do not have the Government’s resources to help me to design amendments. I tabled the amendment to provoke an argument which I have succeeded in doing.

When all is said and done, we know perfectly well that we shall have quinquennial carbon budgets, with annual targets and so on beneath. There is no reason why we could not phase a marketing scheme to comply with the quinquennial targets. Of course, that was not in my amendment because I wanted to have the argument. I accept the point that the Minister makes that economies in some areas will be easier to make than in others. Of course, it is entirely reasonable and rational that where those economies can be made, both easily and economically, the attention should be focused. There may be other areas where that will not happen. I entirely accept that.

In that sense, my amendment is unsatisfactory from my own point of view, but I tabled it to stimulate a discussion. We need to think about this issue carefully. I shall read with considerable care and thought what the Minister has said. I am not certain that this should be the last word on the issue. For now I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at 10 pm.